You know you’re codependent when you think someone’s rejecting you, so you tell the world I am so through with him, it is OVER, and as soon as dude walks in the door with a smile and an apology you’re right back at his doorstep. I didn’t hear from the guy for four days. After he’d cancelled plans with me. What am I supposed to think? Everyone said, Oh he’s just busy, I’m sure it has nothing to do with you. They also said, Yeah it doesn’t sound like he’s that into it.
Then I ran into him last night and I’d already decided to be polite and friendly but to keep my distance because I’m just not gonna go running after you like a puppy dog. I’m a grown ass woman and I can handle whatever this is. People will let you down sometimes. Situations will not turn out the way you want all the time. Life does not go the way I think it should all the time. I lost–and will lose again–the guy, the house, the job… Everything is changing all the time. You can depend on nothing and no one but one thing, and that thing or entity or whatever you want to call it, is a higher power that I call God.
That was not the news I wanted to hear when I was new in recovery. It sounded so bleak. What do you mean I can’t depend on anyone? I should be able to depend on my friends and family. I could depend on my mom, that’s for sure. She loved me no matter what. And that’s true. But did she always do and say what I expected or wanted? Have my closest loved ones always done what I wanted? Did we never argue or disagree or get our feelings hurt? Weren’t there times we didn’t talk to each other?
Dude walks into the room and so I acknowledge him like a grown-up when he walked in, and I smile, and I keep on talking to my friend. My heart did not pound. I did not worry that he would never talk to me again. I already did that last week, and had come to terms with it by Friday night. Can Dude not talk to you for four days and that be okay? my CODA sponsor had asked. Inside I roll my eyes and think, I like my AA sponsor better than you.
One of the characteristics of a codependent–or an adult child, I forget which because my CODA program combines ACA into the mix–is that you (I) often question what’s normal or healthy. Is it normal for a guy to cancel plans, via text, then not contact me for four days, and that be okay? Is that what everyone else does? Usually I meet someone and we’re so into each other and talking to each other non-stop, but it turns out that was unhealthy when I thought that was just being in love. I get that Dude and I aren’t in love. But some kind of hello once in a while would be nice.
My friends convinced me to go out to the Mexican restaurant after the meeting last night after I’d said I have to get up early and work all day, and Jay offers to give me a ride there in his car. Well I would love to hear what you have to say, buddy, so sure. Let’s do this.
So we get into the car and make small talk for a few and he talks about how busy and yet how tired he was all week and then he says, “Well I was crestfallen when I didn’t hear from you last week.” Because that’s the kind of guy he is, the kind who talks like a Happy Days character and uses words like “crestfallen,” which I find endearing. I use that word too.
“Pffft, yeah right,” I replied. He laughed. I love making people laugh. “You didn’t call me.”
“You didn’t call me.”
“You didn’t call me.”
“You didn’t call me.”
“You cancelled plans on me, then I didn’t hear from you for four days.”
“You were ‘posed to be the leader,” he reminds me of how he’d asked me to be the leader in our relationship.
“It can’t work like that.” I’d wondered if he’d say that, about me being the leader, and I’d wondered if I should call him because of that. But then I’d decided that no, I’m not even sure what he means by me being the leader. That I initiate all contact? That whatever I say goes? Clearly not that one because dude just cancelled on me, and that’s not how my 4th of July was supposed to go. We were supposed to be on a boat on the river under the stars watching fireworks together. I didn’t tell him any of this, just that it can’t work like that, me being the leader. We have to be partners.
He conceded. He’d wondered if he should call me, a gut feeling he then realized meant he should have. Not that anyone should do anything but just that it would’ve been a nice gesture.
He was not kidding when he’d said he doesn’t know how to do this thing.
I just told him, “Look, it’s not like you have to check in with me all the time, but it’s nice to hear that you’re thinking of me.”
Now we will see what happens.
He reminded me how we’d talked about letting each other know if we met someone else, and said he wouldn’t just stop talking to me without explanation. That was true. We had talked about that. It’s just that someone else has done that to me before, disappeared without explanation, and I realize that people do that sometimes. Technically a lot of someones have done that to me before, starting when I was about six months old.
My fear of abandonment goes deep. I can’t rely on any of y’all. No longer can I afford to continue placing my hopes in any given person. I have to find what I need within myself. Learn to love myself. Be okay with being on my own. Nothing is a guarantee in this life except death. Everything else and everyone is constantly changing, and it’s up to me to adapt. And I can adapt. Boy can I adapt.
Today I don’t know what that looks like anymore. Being so adaptable you give up your values or beliefs will not work. However, placing unreasonable demands on others has not served me either. And he had a good reason. He thought he had Lyme disease. And I get that, because I became convinced I have some form of Ehler’s-Danlos syndrome. At one point after the meeting we’re standing around talking and dude says he was pretty sure he saw that bull’s-eye on his chest so he had to shave his chest hair, and now he has a square patch on his chest, and girlfriend next to me was like, Let me see. Outwardly I’m acting as though everything is normal and natural but inwardly I’m throwing daggers because bitch that is MY silver fox and no you ain’t gonna be checking out his chest. What do you mean, let me see? I realized later this woman doesn’t have strong social etiquette, and that’s okay. We’re like that sometimes.
So I tell him you should go get that checked out. His doctor told him it was probably nothing, not to worry about it. If it turns out he has Lyme disease, can we sue that doctor? This laissez-faire attitude has got to go. Dude is in the woods all the time. Without insect repellent. Which around here is just asking for Lyme disease. It’s the most prevalent here in Maryland than anywhere else in the country, and I know at least five people who have it. So when I go to North Carolina and my sister laughs at me for dousing myself in insect repellent, well she can laugh all the way to the hospital (just kidding, God please don’t let her get Lyme disease) because my ass is not getting Lyme disease.
Enough about that. The point is, he’s been working all week and when he hasn’t been working he’s been sleeping. That’s how I’ve spent the last year so I get that. I’m a huge proponent of mandatory nap time for all adults, and I wish the millennials would hurry up and be in charge so we can have this in the workplace, along with the four-day work week. I’m ready for a more European way of life because it’s clear to me that working 40+ hours a week and being on call 24/7 for a job, well, that’s the American way, and it needs to stop.
I’m letting Jay off the hook. This time. But I will not be ignored for days on end. And I don’t think that’s an unreasonable demand… right?
Me and my neurosis. God help me. LOL.
Ah well. One day at a time.
Here’s a sweet song from a Canadian band, Imaginary Cities. My favorite lines are, “Scared to speak my mind / Don’t want to see you cry.” I can relate to that.